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USU Team Awarded MIRA Grant For Cerebral Shaping Research

Matt Jensen

Yu Huang, an assistant professor in biological engineering at Utah State University, and his team received a $1.8 million grant to conduct research that will potentially answer questions that have been asked in the biological engineering field for decades. They were the only researchers in Utah awarded the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award in 2021.


This grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund Huang’s research in understanding how cells and tissues in the brain react to limited space. Huang said the implications of these experiments could bring needed progress to patients suffering from neurological conditions.


“So people spend a lot of time and lots of money in healthcare in these kinds of conditions but still are suffering a lot of problems,” Huang said.


The process to solve these problems includes mimicking the conditions of the brain on a micro scale in order to observe how cells respond. 


These experiments require lots of different skills. Kevin Moon, an assistant professor in mathematics and statistics at USU and a member of Huang’s team, knows the value of including people across different areas of study.


“Interdisciplinary work is often where the best research comes out in my opinion,” Moon said. “Where you can work with researchers of different backgrounds and they can come together and solve some of these interesting problems.”


Huang said he enjoys learning from these collaborations as well as helping other researchers in Utah.


“There are actually a lot of first class researchers as well, and they deserve to be recognized more,” Huang said. “And I'm happy to help increase the visibility of the research in Utah.”